Reviews of Alienware kit have previously caused consternation in these pages. Such pieces traditionally polarise readers into two camps - those who appreciate the engineering and build quality that goes into an Alienware system built for a specific target market, and those that can't see past the stupendously high price tag. We've always subscribed to the theory of different strokes for different folks, and we've consequently enjoyed the mahoosive towers the company has sent in for us to check out.
So what's on the test bench this time around? Well, Alienware has a new chassis for one, a smaller version of the gigantic tower we have seen previously. This is more of a mid-tower size than a full-tower, although the styling is otherwise pretty similar. There are some neat new tricks in the case, which we will look at in just a tick.
The hardware has changed, too. Under the hood of this beast is an 8800 GTX SLI setup - absolutely the fastest graphics sub-system that money can buy.
More to the point, this latest incarnation has the latest in optical media - a Blu-ray drive. The machine is fully equipped to play Blu-ray movies, since the 8800 GTX has an HDCP compliant DVI port and the Windows XP install comes loaded with PowerDVD 6.5, which has Blu-ray support.
Does the next-gen optical content work? How well does 8800 work in SLI? And is the Alienware case an improvement on the old giant? We wade in to find out.
The case, as you can see, is a little short for a Stormtrooper. However, there's still room to fit in three 5.25" bays in the front, one of which houses the Blu-ray drive, the others containing a memory card reader and floppy drive. It's in a funky Alienware black, and has a rather nice illuminated front.
Here's how the system breaks down:
Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800;
EVGA nForce 680i SLI motherboard;
2GB Patriot PC6400 running at 800MHz with 5-5-5-16-2T;
2x GeForce 8800 GTX in SLI;
500GB Seagate Barracuda HDD;
Blu-ray Reader and 2x Writer;
Creative X-Fi Xtreme Gamer;
Logitech G15 keyboard and G7 mouse;
Price: £3434 inc VAT.
Let's crack the system open and check out the details.